[Album Review] Pachyderm- Two Weeks of Spring
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Release Date: June 10th, 2015
Label: Brothers & Sisters

The White Stripes may not have invented the notion of the power duo, but I am hard pressed to come up with any prior examples (no, The Carpenters and The Captain & Tennille don’t count). In any case, since the early days of this millennium Canada has embraced this configuration as much as anyone (if not more so). Death From Above 1979 has been around for years, and more recently you have the likes of The Pack A.D., P.S. I Love You and Cousins. Then there’s Montreal’s Pachyderm. The startling thing about these two is that they not only pack a punch (an essential attribute to be considered a power duo) but they manage to create remarkably textured soundscapes.

The ten tracks of brilliant post-rock on ‘Two Weeks of Spring’ take you on a dizzying spin around the world. Through the power of their music your skin is scorched by a desert wind, your nose is filled with the scents of a bustling Indian market, and your ears catch the sound of a lonely loon on a northern lake. The stage is set immediately with the opening track “The Return to Bam Citadel”. A synth drones like the ruddy glow of a slowly rising sun, while tentative drums patter like a gentle rain. Reverb guitar splits the air, changing the mood dramatically. Strains of Eastern mystery blend in with the spaghetti Western twang in the foreground and a cool jazz sax wanders around in the background. Finally, the tune takes flight with full Eastern rhythm and stomping drums.

This is just the beginning. The album unfolds with track after track of similar riches. The tune is generally carried by Tom Jarvis’ guitar but the mood is often supplied by Nico Braesch’s widely varied percussion. It’s interesting to note that the two don’t just represent anglophone Canada and francophone Canada, respectively, but also English rock traditions and French modern music. On “Fidèle” Jarvis takes on lead vocals with a song reminiscent of British proto-prog (think Traffic). Conversely, Braesch sings on the francophone “Lever la voile” and vaguely evokes French musical styles of the ’50s and ’60s.

Pachyderm’s mastery is such that you get the sense that they are going to create magic every time they pick up their instruments. Judging by ‘Two Weeks of Spring’, they are quite capable of doing just that. It is fair to say they occupy the same rarefied space as post-rock giants Godspeed You! Black Emperor. But, of course, it’s all the more impressive because Jarvis/Braesch can produce the same level of complexity with just the two of them.